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Pain and Autism: From the Clinic to the Lab and Back Again

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This webinar is being produced by the International Association for the Study of Pain's Pain in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Special Interest Group (PIDDSIG). 


There is a prevailing notion that autistic people are less sensitive to pain, yet there is a lack of empirical research to support this idea. In this webinar, we will describe the clinical and anecdotal reasons for these assumptions and explore what current research into the pain experience for autistic people tells us.

We will discuss work regarding pain psychophysics and brain imaging, as well as qualitative and mixed methods studies which place autistic peoples’ voices at the heart of this work and help us gain insight into the experience of pain for autistic children and adults.

We will also examine how autism-related differences may impact pain expression, assessment, and treatment. Throughout the webinar, we will also focus on the future and how we can address the problem of persistent and mismanaged pain for autistic people, including considerations of some of the core gaps in knowledge.

Participants include:
-- David Moore, PhD, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
-- Michelle Failla, PhD, The Ohio State University, USA
-- Bethany Donaghy, Liverpool John Moores University, UK (moderator)


  • David Moore, PhD

    David Moore is a Reader in Pain Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University, UK, and a cofounder of the Somatosensory and Affective Neuroscience Research Group. David’s research interests include somatosensation in autism (pain and gentle touch) as well as the cognitive impact of pain. His recent work seeks to examine the pain experiences and expressions of autistic people and examining how to better provide pain education and management for autistic patients. He is interested in the experiences of pain in neurodivergent people and potential links with hypermobility and is a pain adviser to the SEDSConnective charity. David has been a member of IASP for over 10 years and is a member of the Pain in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Special Interest Group.

  • Michelle Failla, PhD

    Michelle Failla is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing and affiliate faculty of the Nisonger Center at The Ohio State University, USA. Her research focuses on understanding pain in populations who may communicate differently or may have different sensory experiences. She is particularly interested in how the pain experience may be different for autistic people, across the lifespan. She uses a variety of techniques such as psychophysics, neuroimaging, behavioral testing, and qualitative approaches to investigate the pain experience. Michelle's work aims to improve pain management for populations where pain communication could particularly impact care.

  • Bethany Donaghy

    Bethany Donaghy is an autistic PhD student at Liverpool John Moores University, UK. Her PhD project examines factors which relate to pain experience and expression in autistic children and young people through a mixed methods approach utilizing various psychophysical and qualitative methods. Her greater interests include improving wider healthcare experiences and addressing health inequalities for autistic people. Alongside her studies, Bethany is a Pain Advisor at SEDSConnective and an autism advocate who regularly talks about her own experiences as an autistic person to help improve autism acceptance and appropriate adaptations for the autistic community in a multitude of environments.

September 12, 2023
Tue 11:00 AM EDT

Duration 1H 0M

This live web event has ended.